An estate plan often focuses on tangible property such as jewelry, artwork, money, and real estate. However, in this age of technology, it is important to remember to include your digital assets. Digital assets consist of everything we own online. Because we spend more time on computers and smartphones than we ever did before, you may not realize how much digital stuff you own, from photos and videos to online accounts, cryptocurrency, and nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
Why Is It Important to Plan for Digital Assets?
Planning for digital assets is important for several reasons. First, without a plan, digital assets may get lost in the Internet ether and not pass to your loved ones after your death due to the simple fact that their existence is unknown. Second, planning now means your family will not have to worry about hunting for these items upon your death while also grieving a beloved family member. Third, like most adults, you want certain aspects of your digital life to remain private; if you do not create a plan, your loved ones may learn things that you wish to keep secret.
Digital Assets: What Are They?
Instead of existing in photo albums and on videotapes and DVDs, most of our family photos and videos are now digital. Even if they lack commercial value, they certainly have sentimental value that you want to preserve for your family and friends. Social media accounts containing your photos and videos can also have value to your loved ones when you are gone. For example, a Facebook account can serve as a memorial after you pass away.
Digital assets that you may own include the following:
● Social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
● Financial accounts at brick-and-mortar and online institutions
● Business documents and other files stored in the cloud
● Cryptocurrency and NFTs
● Device backups
● Streaming service accounts (e.g., Netflix, Peacock, Hulu)
● Merchant accounts (e.g., Amazon, Etsy, eBay)
● Points-based loyalty programs (e.g., for groceries, gas stations, airlines, and hotels)
● Rights to intellectual property, artwork, and literature
Including Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan
Taking inventory of your digital assets may take some time, but it is worthwhile. If something were to happen to you, your executor or trustee should have complete access to your online footprint. This includes usernames and passwords for all accounts. In addition, you should continuously back up all digital assets, including photos and important documents, to the cloud, and ensure that your executor or trustee can easily access them when the time comes.
Legal Disclaimer – The information provided is designed for general information only and is not intended to be legal advice, nor does it create an attorney client relationship. Consult an attorney before making any legal decisions based on your individual circumstances.